Understanding the Jury Trial

Individuals charged with drunk driving in California are entitled to a trial by jury.  The U.S. Constitution guarantees that each criminal defendant has the right to a speedy and public trial.  In California, there are specific guidelines pertaining to “the right to a speedy trial.”  Individuals who are charged with  driving under the influence (DUI) and who are incarcerated have the right to a trial beginning 30 days from their arraignment.  Suspected DUI offenders who are not incarcerated have the right to a trial beginning 45 days from their arraignment.  Both timeframes can be waived by suspected DUI offenders and are often extended when a California DUI attorney files such a motion.  

 

There are several distinct aspects to a drunk-driving jury trial.  If the District Attorney is unable to convince all 12 jurors of a DUI suspect’s “guilt,” then the suspect is acquitted.  During the jury selection process, both the California DUI/DWI attorney and the District Attorney will examine each prospective juror in order to determine the juror’s qualifications for serving.  Once the jury is selected, the District Attorney, followed by the  California DUI defense attorney will make opening statements.  The next trial phase is the examining and cross examining of witnesses, experts, and the presenting of relevant evidence.  Following this, closing arguments are presented to the jury by both sides and jury deliberations begin. 

 

There are three possible outcomes resulting from a jury trial:  (1) all 12 jurors agree that the DUI defendant is guilty, (2) all 12 jurors agree that the DUI defendant is not guilty, or (3) some jurors believe that the DUI defendant is guilty, while some do not, resulting in what is known as a “hung jury.”  California DUI defense lawyers will naturally attempt to get all 12 jurors to determine that their clients are not guilty, but even getting “some” to say a client is not guilty, resulting in a hung jury, is a good outcome as well.  This is why DUI jury trials are most favored by experienced  California DUI/DWI lawyers.